How to tie a shoe. How to make their letters. How to ride the bus.
How to strike the ball. How to throw the pass. How to swing the bat.
How to greet a friend. How to get themselves to sleep. How to decline politely.
These, they learn by rote. There is a technique to be learned, an accuracy to be achieved, a method to be followed. There is a correct way to accomplish each of them. Once they can do it, they practice again and again to get it right. Kids need practice and a patient teacher who will offer soft correction until they’ve got the basics down.
Until they know it by heart.
Once ‘the heart’ knows it and they can execute the pattern without thinking about the steps, they are ready to try their hand at harder things. The techniques they have learned as children are the building blocks for the strategies they apply to adapt and adjust to life’s demands. This is living. Free-living.
What if we don’t let them try?
If we don’t release them from our tutelage, but instead stand by to correct their technique as they… step up to hit the fast ball which now may be a slider, cutter or change-up? Or take their stance to strike the golf ball which now may be behind a tree, on a side hill lie, with a pond dead ahead? Or drop to throw a pass into secondary coverage they’ve never seen, in the face of linemen bigger than they’ve ever faced?
As children, they need to learn the basics as well as they can, so that as adults they can apply the skills they’ve learned to situations they never saw coming. Accuracy and reproducibility then give way to flexibility and adaptability. When the foundation is there, the performance doesn’t founder, it flourishes.
What a joy that is to watch!
From a safe distance we see capability take shape and confidence grow as they apply the lessons of childhood to the responsibilities of adulthood. Not the way we used to do it, not they way we would have done it, but the way they have figured out it needs to be done.
When children are young, they need to learn how.
As adults, they’ll know how…
If we let them.